If you’re lucky enough to be a full-time freelancer, you probably work from home. Working from home is such a simple and cheap solution but there are downsides that come along with it.
The main downside is that it’s so easy to get distracted and your productivity suffers for it.
The solution to this is to plan your days out and allocate your time effectively. That means leaving little space for time-suckers like Reddit and Facebook. Accounting for each hour of the day allows you to get the most of your day and see where your time could be spent better. This will help you to achieve your goals faster and expand your business.
So, here are some ideas on how to get started and become time management whiz!
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Solutions don’t have to be complicated. In fact, they work much better when they’re not because you’re more likely to turn them into habits.
To-do lists are effective because the act of writing your tasks down goes a long way in you remembering them and wanting to cross them off. Who doesn’t love crossing stuff on a to-do list off?
You could go old school with paper and pen, get an app like Todoist or simply take notes on your phone.
Write down daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks
A to-do list each day is a great first step, but you could expand on this. Instead of just having a daily to-do list, have a weekly, monthly or even yearly one. Getting everything down on paper (or screen) can help you plan out tasks and set goals leading up to each deadline.
Here are a few examples of daily, weekly and monthly tasks:
Daily to-do lists
- Follow up emails
- New inquiry emails
- Posting on Twitter
- Client work
- Making a plan for next week
- Admin tasks
- Scheduling content for social media
- Uploading blog content
- Analyse monthly progress
- Pay for hosting packages/software etc.
- Stationery or product orders
- Monthly catch up with clients/outsourced freelancers
- Log progress – blog/social media followers/new clients
This is why the Bullet Journal method is so popular. It allows you to meticulously plan what you’re going to achieve now and in the future. If you’re interested in learning about the Bullet Journal method, take a look at this video.
Get a calendar
On a similar note, get yourself a calendar and look at it regularly. It could be physical piece of paper stuck on your wall or a Google Calendar – whatever your method, make sure you’ve got a way of noting down events you’ve got coming up.
Whether that be client meetings, catch-ups, new projects lined up or HMRC deadlines, having a central calendar where you can see what you need to do at a glance is really important. But you’ll have to make it a habit to actually look at it!
Make specific goals
You can plan your goals as vaguely as you want, but the more specific you become, the easier you’ll find meeting them.
Having a 6 month target of “making more money” is a great goal but nowhere near specific enough. Try to break it down into:
- I will send 20 pitches to potential clients a week to boost my income
- I will increase my rates by X
- I will reduce my expenses/cancel my membership on X to save money
- I will write an affiliate marketing post each month
Many people swear by the SMART method of goal setting. This stands for:
S – Specific – Make your goals clear and well-defined.
M – Measurable – Ensure you can measure your goals and progress.
A – Attainable – Make sure it’s possible and realistic to achieve your goals.
R – Relevant – These goals should be relevant and closely related to the direction you want to take.
T – Time-bound – Goals with deadlines are much more likely to be met.
Get a project management tool
Think Asana, Monday or Hygger – these are project management tools that help you keep on top of everything you need to do. They typically have inbuilt calendars and status bars for individual projects. They’re also really handy if you need to collaborate with clients or other freelancers.
They’re useful if you want everything in one place, rather than having to log into a dozen different apps or websites.
Have a content and social media calendar
Blogging and social media are really important for modern online workers. But they need some strategy behind them if you want to get the most out of them. Having no strategy means you’re almost certainly going to get distracted by cute cats on Instagram. It happens to us all.
Having a content calendar where you plan out what you’ll blog about and when makes it easier to keep on track. Similarly, a social media content plan will help you do the same and use your time on Twitter wisely.
With scheduling tools like Hootsuite, it’s really simple to plan out your content calendar and schedule it in advance.
Make time for breaks
While planning your day down to the minute is essential for some, we would recommend setting some time for breaks. Accounting for all your time doesn’t mean you need to be working solidly for 10 hours. That’s a sure fire way to end up stressed and your productivity will suffer.
Instead, schedule your breaks so that you’re actually taking them and not overworking. It’ll also make you less likely to look for distractions while you’re meant to be working.
It might help to have an alarm, both to remind you to take a break and also to remind you to get back to work.
Structure your day according to your strengths
Some people are early risers, others are night owls. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to wake up at 5am to succeed. Some people work better at 11pm. Listen to your body and try to establish when you work at your most creative and when you produce the most.
Once you know these times of the day when you’re at your best, try to schedule the most difficult/creative tasks for then.
For example, if you’re more creative in the morning, you might want to use this time to write blog posts or design graphics. If you’re groggy in the morning, this might be better for answering emails or doing some light admin. Try to keep it consistent as this will help you maintain a routine and get more done.
We hope these tips have helped you plan out your day more efficiently. Good planning is essential for those who don’t have an office or a boss to hold them accountable every day. It’s far too easy to waste most of your time on social media or by catching up on a TV show. Implement the above tips and let us know how you get on.
How do you plan your day? Is working from home a help or a hindrance to your productivity? Let us know your thoughts below.